Discovered: A Wealth of Music By Women

I went downtown yesterday to pick up a new book for a piano student of mine from The Leading Note. To my delight, I discovered a wealth of music by female composers for both flute and piano alike! Here’s what I bought:

At the Piano With Women Composers, ed. by Maurice Hinson. Published by Alfred Publishing Co. [Intermediate to Early Advanced Piano]
Barcarolle et Scherzo, by Berthe di Vito-Delvaux. Published by CeBeDeM. [Late Intermediate Flute]
As She Was, by Catherine McMichael. Published by Alry Publications Etc., Inc. [Intermediate Flute]

At the Piano With Women Composers features thirteen different women composers writing from the Classical era to the 20th Century. Some of them, we’ve met in my History Hunt series: Amy Beach, Teresa Carreño, Cécile Chaminade, Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and Clara Wieck Schumann. Others are still on my to-do list. I’m particularly excited to explore this collection, so my more advanced piano students had better watch out!

Previous posts in this series discovering music by underrepresented composers: (1) (2)

Back to School, Back to Blogging

Well, now, here we are again. Most students in my area started their first day of school on Tuesday, the leaves on the maple tree outside my window are starting to turn red, and fall will soon be here (even if the current 33C feels-like temperature doesn’t suggest as much). And so now is a good time to get back to this blog, and hopefully make updates a regular feature once again.

Over the summer, I was able to go on a music-buying spree for my studio. It was a lot of fun, but it also brought to mind one of the difficulties of making sure the music my students are exposed to comes from a variety of sources.

Finding music by non-male composers and minority composers is a constant struggle. In my side work as a music reviewer for the Canadian Music Teacher, on more than one occasion I’ve been sent collections of music where the composers featured were exclusively men. And for all its benefits, the Royal Conservatory of Music itself does little better in its pre-20th century music.

However, I was lucky enough in my most recent spree to find two flute works by female composers to add to my collection: Canadian Nancy Telfer’s Star-Gazing, and American Amy Beach’s Sonata in a minor, Op. 34, which was transcribed for flute. (Amy Beach was previously featured on this blog’s History Hunt series, as one of the most famous and popular composers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.) I was also able to find an intermediate piano collection of Chinese folk songs, which I’m looking forward to incorporating into my students’ repertoire–once I do some research, of course–and Fiona Wilkinson’s book of technique, The Physical Flute.

Frustratingly, Telfer and Beach’s works together cost more than a typical collection of multiple works by all-male composers. This isn’t unusual. When it comes to teaching with representation, music teachers have to be willing to shoulder a financial burden. That can be a real hardship, since many teachers are of lower income than is typically assumed. Add in the time and patience needed to track down representative works in the first place, and our challenge is clear.

To lessen this challenge for others, I’m planning to document each work I come across as I slowly shift my personal collection into something more balanced. I’m hoping that, in doing so, I’ll be able to make teaching with representation just a little more feasible.

Works featured:

Star-Gazing, by Nancy Telfer. Published by the Canadian Music Centre. (Français) [Easy Flute]
Sonata in a minor, Op. 34, by Amy Beach. Transcribed for Flute and Piano by Alexa Still. Published by International Opus. [Advanced Flute]
Chinese Folk Songs Collection, arranged by Joseph Johnson in consultation with Wen Guo Yao, Shen Wen, Jerry Huang, the Deng family, and Jennifer Linn. Published by Hal Leonard. [Early Intermediate Piano]
The Physical Flute, by Fiona Wilkinson. Published by Waterloo Music Company Ltd. [Intermediate to Advanced Flute]

Healing Wind by Ohwihsha

Library Focus: Healing Wind by Ohwihsha

Last summer, I had the chance to attend my very first pow wow. It was a terrific experience and I was really glad I was able to go, even if–and, at the same time, especially because–it made me acutely aware of how ignorant I am of First Nations cultures. As a very small step towards alleviating that ignorance, while I was at the pow wow, I purchased the CD Healing Wind, by Ohwihsha.

Ohwihsha is the duo of Jonathan Maracle and Kris Delorenzi of Broken Walls, a group that also includes Bill Pagaran. Jonathan Maracle is of the Mohawk nation and plays wind flutes, rattles, whistles, drums, and percussion on Healing Wind and also provides the vocals, while Kris Delorenzi, who’s Italian, plays bass guitar and provides background music and editing.

I’m looking forward in the coming months to increasing my knowledge of First Nations musics through both listening and research, and I invite my students to join me and do the same! If you’re a current student and would like to check out the CD from my lending library, by all means let me know! Everyone else, if you’d like to know more about Healing Winds and Ohwihsha, please visit their website.

Happy Monday!